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War of the Titans Shaping Broward Town

Broward Commissioner Ilene Lieberman lords over a far-reaching political fiefdom and is arguably the most active and powerful politician across the county.

Bill Scherer is a downtown attorney with a major law firm, plenty of land, lots of big plans, and longstanding ties to the biggest players in town (including Huizenga and the Formans).

And the two of them are in the middle of a years-long war with each other, and the ongoing fight is helping to shape the county's future.

Lieberman vehemently opposes anything with Scherer's name on it, including his new courthouse parking-lot plan. When Lieberman and ally Stacy Ritter created the farcical Broward County Courthouse Task Force, Scherer was conspicuously absent. When the subject of parking came up, Scherer's courthouse parking plan was dumped out of hand by the committee.

When Commissioner John Rodstrom appointed Scherer to the Broward County Ethics Committee, he exacted some revenge. Suddenly Scherer became a devout ethics reformer leading the charge to outlaw lobbying by elected officials and their spouses. This was a major blow to Lieberman and Ritter, whose households have both made big money on lobbying.   

And every time Lieberman and Ritter tried to nefariously kill the ethics reform package, Scherer was there threatening a lawsuit to right the ship.

It may be Lieberman's greatest achievement: She made Bill Scherer into an ethics champion.

Something is now looming that could really shift the battle in Scherer's direction -- the State Attorney's corruption investigation, which is focusing on both Lieberman and Ritter. Nobody wants to see Lieberman in handcuffs more than Scherer, and such an event would radically shift the political landscape in his direction.  

It wasn't always this way. Lieberman and Scherer used to be close friends and associates. When big-money lab owner Mark Ginsburg was going after state business, he hired lobbyist Russ Klenet (and yes, Klenet's wife, then state Rep. Stacy Ritter, voted in favor of Ginsburg). He also hired Lieberman's husband, Stuart Michelson, and Bill Scherer to work for him at various times.

What prompted the feud? Money, of course. The cage match began with a lawsuit in 2005 that Michelson and Scherer worked on together. Michelson claimed in a lawsuit that Scherer owed him $400,000 in legal fees on the case. I'm not sure how it has played out, but it's clear that the conflict continues in full force.

I couldn't get in touch with either Lieberman or Scherer this morning. Lieberman is scheduled to be in China (though I hear she may have returned early), and Scherer is out of town, according to his office.

After the jump, see the new Hometown Democracy Amendment 4 ad featuring political corruption. You'll see a lot of familiar mug shots in the commercial. 


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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman

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